The Baseball fields at Chapman Field Park, a county park, have served the Palmetto schools, the Howard Palmetto Khory Leagues and adult leagues for more than four decades. However, since 2014 Miami Dade County has abandoned our neighborhood park. Generations of youth and adults played baseball at Chapman field, including the Howard Palmetto Khory League, the Palmetto Middle and Palmetto Senior High schools’ baseball teams.
However in 2014, when it was discovered that the baseball fields had contamination found to be dirt and ash from old landfills, it was closed down. Other county and city parks have been remediated and are now back in use, but Chapman Field sits desolate and virtually abandoned by the county.
Our baseball teams have had to find alternate sites for practice and to play their games, and the adult softball teams are playing in South Miami and out in west Kendall, but they are not happy. Pinecrest and South Miami and Palmetto Bay have opened their municipal parks for this additional use, but all are finding it difficult to accommodate everyone, so play time and practice has been severely curtailed, availability is limited, and night games have been eliminated.
It is high time the County cleaned up the fields and opened them back up for public use. We need a commitment and a date certain for when we will have our park back.
In addition, in April 2014, the County’s promise to our community and the dog lovers in Pinecrest that a Dog Park would be built at Chapman Field, resulted in a ground breaking ceremony with the Parks department and our private Commissioner assuring us the Dog park improvements were on the way, having identified some private funding. Although the location they identified at Chapman is highly questionable, in fact I’d say it’s an absurd location for a Dog Park, as it is a desolate dangerous area, is not handicapped accessible, in fact is down a quarter mile dirt path surrounded by mangrove and signs that declare “Warning, it is a crocodile nesting area” (I am not making this up), the Parks department and Commissioner Suarez assured us that the necessary accessibility, water and other safety features were to be part of the Dog Park development.
Yet today that area too sits undeveloped and abandoned. I don’t believe that site will or even should be fully developed, it is too desolate way back at the end of the dirt road, and will cost far too much to make it a safe and accessible Dog Park Site. Surely when the County mitigates the contamination and renovates the full front end of the park, a better site closer to the entrance could be found and made into a Dog Park.
The County must make the clean up and renovation a top priority in the coming year, give us back our local county park and fulfill its promise to provide a Dog Park to the neighborhood.